On March 3, 2009 I received the phone call every parent fears.
“Your son has been involved in a serious accident; how quickly can you get here?”
As I raced to the hospital, I would soon learn more about the extent of my son’s injuries.
Jake’s car had collided with a train sometime in the wee hours of the morning. As doctors and nurses entered the room with empty stares and soft trembling voices, they uttered, “We are doing everything we can; the situation is grim.” Jake suffered head trauma and a lack of oxygen to his brain for an extended amount of time caused irreversible brain damage. For thirty hours, family and friends were at his bedside praying for a miracle.
Then it was to be – my precious son Jake was to be the miracle.
In all the chaos and emotion of the next few minutes and hours, I reflected back to a summer afternoon when Jake and I were talking about my decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. I recall Jake telling me, “If it is no good for me, someone else should benefit.” Thinking of this particular day, I knew what we had to do and we talked to the hospital and Donor Alliance about organ and tissue donation.
Jake was always thinking of others. He often fed the homeless, gave them rides and offered them the clothes off his back. It was not unusual to be downtown and notice a hoodie or hat that Jake once wore. Generosity is what he was known for.
Now, he would continue to give in his loss. Six individuals and their families, who were praying for a miracle that day, received one. Jake’s liver, kidneys, pancreas and heart valves were all transplanted and our family has been blessed to hear from each of his recipients.
“Each day brings new challenges, but I have learned that in each challenge we have choices. Jake always made the choice to live, to love and to laugh. It is by the grace of God, the love of family and friends and the compassion of complete strangers, that we survived losing him. That is why I choose to keep Jake’s spirit alive by facing each day just as he would have.”